The Associate By Peg Alford Pursell Her husband told her he was going out of the country the second week of the month, just after her birthday. A strange sensation crept over her skin and she felt such as when the person you are trying to reach is sitting with his phone, unanswering. That evening they had dinner at the apartment of his associate who had invited them, he explained, because she, being new to the city, was lonely. She wanted them to feel comfortable with her. She needed friends. Her place smelled of curries and something vaguely like decaying sunflowers. The womanâ€™s face reminded her of a finely cracked mirror but not one so broken that you would discard it. Possibly, the associate was not her husbandâ€™s lover after all. The woman showed them into the living room where they were to wait the ten or fifteen minutes until dinner, the wine they brought left unopened on the table. They were alone in the small room and quiet, some unseen threads connecting them to the earlier conversation. You are supposed to talk, she said, because she needed to learn his secret. He placed his finger to his mouth and shook his head. The meal was dry, and a large cockatiel squawked in its cage at they ate, rustling its dusty feathers, powdery motes flailing in the fading sunlight. After, they waited in the hall for the elevator, white light illuminating the number of their floor, then disappearing, and the doors never sliding open. They descended the three flights of stairs to the street and began the long walk back across the bridge. Birds hunted underneath, sending up a cacophony of muted noises. He stopped to look out over the river low against its banks. He always liked to look at water, no matter its qualities, and true to his nature, he seemed to see the river as it might have been once, a rush of water over the huge rocks, alive, pushing to the sea. He took her arm, placing his hand between her armpit and breast, and she said nothing, thinking of a time when their bodies seemed so uncomplicated, so vital, so known.
Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review Volume 3, Issue 1
FLAR is an independently published literary and art magazine located in Fredericksburg, Virginia.